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Consultant backs Euro court ruling in ombudsman case

Compliance consultant Adam Samuel says the European Court of Human Rights was right to reject the legal challenge brought by Heather Moor & Edgecomb over the Financial Ombudsman Service’s failure to hold an oral hearing.

The case was lodged with the European Court by HME managing director Brian Pickering. It centres on advice given by the firm to a client in 1999 to leave his employer’s occupational scheme. By 2003, the value of the client’s pension fund had fallen by 23 per cent. In November 2003, the client took his complaint to the FOS.

HME sought a hearing on the case, then a judicial review of the FOS’s final decision issued in November 2006 to pay appropriate redress. The Court of Appeal dismissed the claim in June 2008.

The grounds for the case at a European level were that the FOS failed to deliver its decision publicly, refused to hold an oral hearing, is neither independent nor impartial, and the complaint system is not compatible with the rule of law.

The European Court concluded last month that Pickering’s complaints were “manifestly ill-founded.”

Samuel says: “There was no need for an oral hearing, the evidence was well documented. Everybody knew what the advice was and everybody knew what the customer’s circumstances were. The complaint was filed at the FOS in 2003. The resolution of this case has been delayed for eight years.”

An FOS spokesman says: “The court confirmed that the ombudsman service operates fully within the rule of law and adheres to the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Brian Pickering was unavailable for comment.

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